Hoping to contain the speedy Jamaica, the U.S. national team played a tight diamond midfield formation in a World Cup qualifier against the Reggae Boyz in Kingston on Friday night.
The result, perhaps partially due to an off-night by three of the four U.S. middies, was a 2-1 win for Jamaica that puts the U.S. in near-precarious position with three games remaining in the semifinal round.
It wasn’t that the fleet Jamaicans ran roughshod through the American defense. The U.S. did not allow Jamaica much of anything in the way of close-range scoring chances, minus the costly fouls by Kyle Beckerman and Jermaine Jones that led to free-kick goals from just outside the penalty area by Rodolph Austin and Luton Shelton.
The problem was the creation of chances, or lack of, by the U.S., whose narrow posture produced only two notable crossing attempts from wide positions on Friday. It was compounded by the injury absences of field general Michael Bradley and the always dangerous Landon Donovan.
But the Americans hope to change that in the rematch on Tuesday in Crew Stadium. They spent a lengthy portion of an open training session today working on finishing from wide positions.
“We’ll have to look at different formations and see what the manager thinks is best for us and how we want to play,” said U.S. forward Clint Dempsey, who played atop the diamond and underneath strikers Herculez Gomez and Jozy Altidore.
“I thought it was a bit central,” he said. “We tried to play a style to keep possession and it didn’t work. We just have to keep moving. We’ve got to create width. I think that was something we didn’t have on (Friday). We all kind of sat in the middle and tried to play through the middle. It didn’t work, so we’ve got to make the pitch bigger. Spread out a bit more, try to interchange and play much quicker. I thought we were too slow with the ball. Take fewer touches and move the ball.”